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Ibm.com Recruits Affiliate Web Sites to Reach Out to Individual, Small and Medium Business Customers

Deal With Be Free and SmartAge.com Establishes Affiliate Network

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y - 28 Feb 2000: -- IBM announced today that it is driving sales on ibm.com with the creation of a new affiliate marketing program, incenting thousands of large and small Web-based businesses to place links to ibm.com products on their sites.

IBM is teaming with Be Free, Inc. (NASDAQ:BFRE) for the infrastructure, technology and services needed to develop and manage the ibm.com affiliate program. IBM also is teaming with SmartAge.com Corp., who will recruit its member small business sites to affiliate themselves with ibm.com.

This is part of an aggressive strategy to emphasize the ibm.com direct sales channel, expanding its reach and giving ibm.com presence on thousands of Web sites that reach millions of potential new customers. The program complements such recent measures as the "Buy Today, Ship Today" capability on ibm.com, unmatched in the computer industry, as well as customer service innovations such as "Call me now" buttons. The affiliate marketing program is an important new channel for PCs and mobile computer models featured on ibm.com, some of which have recently been reduced in price by up to 30 percent.

"Through this agreement we intend to quickly attract thousands of affiliates to ibm.com," said Dick Anderson, vice president, Internet Sales & Operations, ibm.com. "The program is one of many ways in which IBM is spreading the word to small and medium businesses and individuals that ibm.com is the premier destination for buying computers and software products. And we're confident that the breadth of our offerings, our commissions and our trusted brand make our program uniquely attractive to affiliates."

Incentives to affiliates in the program include commissions of 1 percent on hardware and 4 percent on software and revenue performance rewards. Potential affiliates can contact ibm.com at http://www.ibm.com/shop/affiliates.

Promotions will initially encompass IBM Personal System Group products, such as Aptivas, IBM PCs, ThinkPads and Netfinity servers, as well as IBM Software Group offerings.

Be Free acts as a full-service performance marketing partner in developing and managing the channel, and as an intermediary, tracking each transaction and reporting the results back to both IBM and its affiliates. IBM will also be working with Be Free to recruit and accept motivated affiliate partners. SmartAge.com, which uses Be Free's technology to manage its own affiliate network open to its more than 1 million small businesses, will now also offer its members revenue-generating links to IBM.

Said Gordon Hoffstein, chairman and CEO of Be Free, "Performance marketing is the most cost-effective marketing tool available for online businesses so, naturally, we're pleased to be teaming with a global company and e-business leader like IBM to develop a performance-based marketing program. We think that affiliate partners will find it easy and rewarding to do business with IBM."

"SmartAge.com is proud to be a part of the program that IBM is announcing today and to be associated with the e-business leader," said Bill Lohse, president and CEO, SmartAge.com "We serve a vital component in IBM's program, reaching out effectively to the many relatively small, but highly influential, Web sites that dominate the Internet today."

Corporations are finding that placing ads indiscriminately drives little traffic to a given Web site, particularly as surfers have grown more sophisticated. For example, the majority of Web traffic goes directly to individual Web sites, rather than portals, making targeted advertising on individual sites more effective.

An April 1999 survey by Forrester Research of marketing executives bears this out; it found that affiliate programs were the most effective in generating traffic to Web sites compared to other online advertising. Not surprisingly, Jupiter Communications estimates that 24 percent of e-commerce revenues will be derived from such programs by 2002.

Contact(s) information

J. Timothy Ohsann
IBM
(914) 288-3655
ohsann@us.ibm.com

Julia Glenister
SmartAge.com
(415) 674-3787 x 5155
jglenister@smartage.com

Jennifer Roy
Be Free
(508) 357-8888 x 4039
jroy@befree.com

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